The year 2020 will go down in history as probably one of the most challenging years of our lifetime. We give thanks to God that this terrible year has finally passed, and now we have a new year, a new beginning, a new page to write a new story.
You may wonder, how can someone who lost someone close to them in the fight against COVID-19 experience a new beginning? How can someone who lost their financial security due to the pandemic have a new beginning? How can someone who has experienced trauma and still has painful memories rise above and walk into a new beginning? Is it possible to have a fresh start in this new year, or is this idea of a new beginning an illusion?
The answer to these difficult questions is very complicated. Maybe this is why people feel stuck and cannot wrap their minds around a new beginning, even though they are “celebrating” a new year. They seek closure to have a fresh start but don’t know how to find it after their losses.
Pop psychology talks about closure as an answer to recovering from loss and starting a new beginning. Closure is any interaction, information, or practice that allows someone to feel that a traumatic, upsetting, or confusing life event has been resolved. What constitutes closure varies from one person to another and depends on the context surrounding the stressful event they experienced. This term has its origin in Gestalt Psychology. This type of psychotherapy talks about closure as a way of healing. The theory argues that the mind seeks closure to cope with emotional pain.
Today, this concept of closure has turned into a panacea for dealing with emotional pain. Some mental health professionals argue that closure could be a myth and is not achievable unless we experienced amnesia. The mind keeps a registry of all our experiences, especially the emotional ones, and those experiences will never be erased. In this case, how can you experience closure when the memory is still alive in your mind? Maybe closure is not the best word to describe what happens in our brains when we try for a new beginning.
Here is some advice that you can consider as you learn to experience a new beginning this year:
- Do not seek closure, but healing (Psalm 34:18). You can heal without closure, even though you may have to carry some pain as you enter a new year. One day, God will bring closure to the pain of this world. For now, allow God to heal your heart and mind.
- Accept the loss you have experienced in the past and give yourself time to grieve (John 16:22). Don’t try to ignore the pain by “celebrating” as you try to seek the illusion of closure.
- Seek forgiveness (Colossians 3:13). Forgiveness is the beginning of healing. Forgiveness does not mean you forget, but it allows you to begin healing. Only the Holy Spirit can produce this in your heart.
- Find a friend, a pastor, or a counselor who will listen and validate your emotions and walk with you through the valley of pain and sorrow.
- Learn to live in the here and now even though your questions may not have answers. You do not have to understand everything that God allows you to experience in this world to experience emotional healing.
- Place your hope in a new beginning without trying to erase your past (Jeremiah 29:11). God can help you heal your wounds and allow you to hope for a better tomorrow.
- Free yourself from negative thoughts (Philippians 4:8-9). Do not become a victim of your past.
We have to accept that the pain we may experience today will not end until Christ’s return (Revelation 21:4). We cannot control the pain. However, we can control the suffering. The pain can change through healing, in addition to closure. The healing process is different from closure, even though both terms are used to express the same process. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). The Bible talks about healing from our emotional wounds. It promises that one day we will experience the final closure to our pain and suffering and experience a new creation, a new beginning (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
 Berns, Nancy (2011). Closure: The Rush to End Grief and What it Costs us. Philadelphia, Pa. Temple University.